It's amazing how where you are in your cycle affects your state of mind. It affects how you react to things, and how much you can handle on a given day. I would like to think that because I have been at this for a while now (jeez louise, coming up on two years of medicated cycles), that I am more mellow, more experienced with the ups and downs, and more able to better handle things in general. But I don't actually think that's the case. I think it totally depends on where I am in the fertility calendar.
The Best Of Times
I am feeling my best and my most well-balanced when I am heading into an IVF cycle. Like this past month and a half or so, I've been feeling really well-adjusted. I went to visit my best friend (the one with three children 4 and under) this past weekend and I didn't have a single moment where I thought I might burst into tears. This is a house that has every last drop of the joyful chaos that I desperately want--a baby to soothe, toddlers vying for attention and giving heartfelt "I love you, Mommy" whispers. Even when it is crazy I want it. Because my house is dead quiet in comparison. When I first indicated that I wanted to come visit, my friend was cautious--she wanted to make sure I was sure it would be ok. I have been a hot mess in months past, so it was reasonable that she would worry that I would be torturing myself. However, I was going into a cycle. I had given it a lot of thought before even bringing it up (I would never offer it up if I couldn't handle it in the first place). I was in a place of hope and positivity. And the visit was great--I didn't have to use my "out" that I set up (going to Starbucks for some quiet time if it was too much). I didn't cry once. And my friend's husband gave the ultimate gift of taking all three kids out to visit grandparents for the day on Saturday so that we could have grown up time just the two of us. It was lovely. I held a 3-month (fresh) baby, changed her, fed her, burped her, and was projectile vomited on by her. It made me feel good, not horribly sad that I didn't have it. Because my mindset now is, Soon this will be mine, too. I live in a place of hope during this pre-cycle gearing-up phase.
The Worst of Times
By far, the time when I can handle nothing is right after a failed cycle. This was evidenced spectacularly by my second failed IVF. I seriously did not want to leave the house and I couldn't stop crying. Babies crying in restaurants reduced me to a puddle over my guacamole. I couldn't talk to my same friend (whose babies I bathed and fed and read stories to over this past weekend) unless her children were not around. I couldn't stand to hear that joyful chaos in the background and be reminded again that my house is filled with animal sounds, not small-child sounds. Watching TV was difficult because any number of storylines (or advertisements) could send me into self-pitying hysterics. Going on Facebook was tough because inevitably there was a birth or a pregnancy announcement and I'd have to offer congratulations to what felt like everyone but me. This is a deep, dark hole. But it is a relatively short-lived hole. After each failed IVF the hole gets a little deeper and a little wider, because my ability to remain hopeful and think this is actually possible for us suffers. But it's still temporary. Once I have a plan, once dates are in place, and especially once I can say "I start Lupron THIS month," my outlook improves vastly. Somehow I can find a way to climb out of the hole, get hopeful and enthusiastic again, and pretend that there's not another potential pit waiting to swallow me up.
The Crapshoot Times
During a cycle is my trickiest time. This is when anything goes. I could be hopeful and buying Maine onesies one moment and sobbing into my American Baby magazine (that, incidentally, I ordered for myself on a hopeful upswing) the next. I might need to get out and not think about anything baby. Or, because going out makes it impossible not to see a million pregnant women and babies in strollers or slings, stay in and not think about anything baby. I am so hopped up on hormones that I don't even know which end is up. I can be excited and terrified at the same time. I am entering this time, because the closer we get to getting started the more excited and equally apprehensive I can be. I will say, for those who may misinterpret my words, that I am more saddened by the plethora of bellies and babies I don't know than those of my friends. At all times of my cycle calendar I am able to be happy for my friends when they hit the jackpot. I might be a little more sad for me at the same time depending on where I am, but I am always genuinely happy for the lucky ones.
The upshot of all this is that I am in the best place in the time leading up to an IVF cycle. I can believe in this time that I am "next," and that I will be buying maternity clothes soon. I am in the worst place right after a crappy cycle, where it seems that I will never be "next" and the stork just likes to take a shit on my house, not deliver a prize package. I am a tricky mix in the in-between times, the medicated times, the scary in-the-moment of "this might be the time I actually win the lottery and get pregnant." I have spoken with ladies in my support groups, and it seems to be pretty universal--where you are in a cycle governs what you can and cannot handle. But, as a rule of thumb, things that (while in this process) I cannot handle regardless include: Baby Showers, Mother's Day, Small Child Birthday Parties, Post-Birth Hospital Visits. Those things fall in the No-Matter-Where-I-Am-It-Hurts-Too-Much category. Hopefully this gives some insight into how a infertility-plagued state of mind (or at least, mine) shifts depending on where you are headed and where you've been.